Ashoka India is proud to welcome three outstanding social entrepreneurs into the Fellowship:
Dr Prasanta Tripathi
Prasanta is the first Fellow we've elected from Jharkhand. He is a trained medical doctor who believes strongly that matters of life and death are as often in the hands of communities as healthcare professionals. The deaths of new born children in villages are a huge problem and what perturbed Prasanta was the helplessness and unquestioning acceptance of child mortality by mothers in villages. With this in mind, Prasanta’s first step towards realising health for all was to transform the attitudes of communities from being fatalistic to being critical and pro-active.
Towards this, Prasanta, along with his organisation Ekjut, is increasing the ability of mothers and communities to identify health problems and respond to them effectively. Through activities aimed at increasing their health consciousness and critical-thinking abilities, Prasanta has been enabling women to identify and prioritise maternal and infant health problems. More importantly, Prasanta has enabled communities to collectively determine and implement strategies to address these issues. The results have been visible – in the 200 villages across Jharkhand and Orissa, where Ekjut has worked, there has been a 45% reduction in newborn mortality and a 20% reduction in maternal mortality.Ekjut has now replicated this empowering approach in more than a thousand villages.
Ram is generating a new way of delivering credit services to the poorest individuals, by blending peer-to-peer lending with a strong back-end delivery system that controls interest rates. By carefully prequalifying citizen sector organizations (CSOs) and establishing robust back-end processes, he repurposes CSO’s to act as branches and for the first time, deliver loans at interest rates as little as 8.5% p.a.
For Ram, affordability of micro-credit is far more important for bringing people out of poverty than ‘access.’ To address this, he is employing various strategies that bring both credit and investors closer to the poor. Using the concept of peer-to-peer lending, he has introduced India’s first technology platform which crowd-sources capital. The integrity of this process attracts larger capital and credible partners, who then control interest rates and deliver quality services. Partnering with existing rural CSOs, he has created access to micro-credit at flat 8.5% p.a for livelihood loans, compared to the average of 26% charged by MFIs in India. Additionally, he is creating a vibrant community of investors who are engaged with the vision of his organisation, Rang De. This has deepened their awareness about inequity and has driven them to self organise into city chapters, through which they share experiences, spread awareness and engage with borrowers. Ram and his organisation are based out of Bangalore.
Jessica is building a pan-Indian network of professionally trained citizen video-correspondents, drawn from some of the poorest and marginalised communities in the country. For Jessica, marginalised communities are not only recipients of information but also as active creators of content. Local people, who have been the subjects of discrimination, are uniquely placed to be better correspondents, since they have the first-hand perspective to local issues. By equipping them with tools of empathy and skills of articulation, Jessica pushes them to go beyond their own stories and become voices of their communities. Through partnerships with mainstream media and development agencies, she is not actively distributing the videos, so that they may reach wider audiences. Through her organisation, Video Volunteers, she is thus building the architecture to not only capture these stories but also to ensure the voices of the poor are being heard across the country. While Video Volunteers is a national organisation, Jessica is based out of Goa.